Winery Profile: Robert Biale Vineyards

Posted on March 30, 2018

Just outside of Downtown Napa the Biale Family has been crafting Zinfandel for decades, but those vines have a few stories to tell about passion, tradition and work ethic. You’ll stop in for a tasting and leave with a craving for Black Chicken.
 
The Vineyard
Come to Napa to taste the wine and leave with great stories of family traditions and the history of the craft of extracting the very best flavors from the grapes. Robert Biale Vineyard has been working the land for over 70 years and just a few minutes in the tasting room is enough to glimpse how time has progressed in Napa Valley.
 
 
Aldo Biale once distributed his secret wine to friends and family using the code name “Black Chicken” during prohibition. While he sold most of his Zinfandel grapes to local wine makers, his jugs of homemade wine took off and soon became the foundation for the Vineyard named after his son Robert.
 
 
Today, Black Chicken Zinfandel is a prized wine that is the industry standard for that varietal.
 

 

 

 
The Experience
Find a spot out on the patio with a view of the vineyard and sample the Royale Punisher, a petite Syrah that is deep with black fruit flavor and on the verge of intoxicating sweetness. You’ll have to taste the Black Chicken Zinfandel while trying not to crave a backyard barbeque that comes from the pepper and black cherry fruit that is alive in this bottle. An afternoon at the Robert Biale Vineyard is romantic enough to make you think you need a few bottles to take home or even consider relocating to Napa.
 
 
Take a stroll around the property or have a liquid picnic on the patio. A visit to the Biale Vineyard is what a quintessential trip to wine country feels like.

 

What To Taste

  • Wine #1- The tasting started off with a 2013 Zinfandel named Founding Fathers which was an excellent choice to begin with. The name Founding Fathers was chosen after the discoverers and creators of the Napa Valley that first planted Zinfandel throughout the valley. The wine is sourced from two of the oldest estates in St Helena which are home to traditional Old Zin Vines. The wine is 14.8% alcohol with flavors of Stone fruit, Cherry, Apricot, Vanilla, Soft Tannins, followed with Mineral Notes. We really enjoyed this wine and were curious to see what was next.

 

  • Wine #2- The next wine was a 2013 Zinfandel called Black Chicken Zinfandel. This wine was spectacular to say the least and came with a very interesting story on how it got its name. (See Story below). Black Chicken wine has developed tannins, a variety of red and dark Fruits, and aromas with characteristics of star anise, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, black and white pepper, cocoa accompanied by delicate hints of oak. This is a Biale signature Zinfandel wine in our opinion.

 

Black Chicken Story- Founder Aldo Biale raised White Leghorn chickens and sold the eggs along with his Zinfandel grapes to local patrons. Some of the grapes were used to make small lots of wine which Aldo sold to close friends and relatives. The family phone line was a “party line” that could be shared by other “nosy neighbors.” Hence the name “Black Chicken” was used as a code name, as not to reveal the jugs of Zinfandel wine that were sold secretly to a select few.
 
  • Wine #3- Our 3rd and last wine was an astounding 2013 Petite Sirah from Rutherford called Royal Punishers. Sourced from the CC Ranch vineyard in Rutherford, the St George rootstock grafted with old clones makes for this magnificent wine. Petitie Syrah Royal Punishers (See story below). The wine is 14.9% alcohol with flavors of wild berries, expresso, vanilla, and black tea and sexy tannins that leave your mouth wanting another glass. This is one spectacular wine and left us flabbergasted.

 

Royal Punishers Story- Petite Sirah is known as being one of the best varietals in the Napa Valley, and has long been a favorite of Winemakers for blending with their other red wines to help enhance and add character. Originally from France and introduced to California in the early 1900’s Petite Sirah was once the favored varietal in the Napa Valley. Royal Punishers lives up to its name and the name “Royal Punishers” was actually created by the founders during a scrabble game. They mixed the letters of “Sirah” and “Pelourson”, which are two crossed varietals used to make the grape Durif or Petite Sirah as it is commonly known.

 

 
How to Taste It
Robert Biale Vineyard is open by appointment only and they offer a variety of experiences for visitors. Reservations can be made by calling the vineyard or by going to their website.

 

Two Options at Biale Vineyards for Wine Tasting:
  • Valley Vista Experience - Appointments Available 10:00am to 3:00pm Daily. Daily lineup consists of wines chosen by our team of wine educators. These tastings take place inside our beautiful tasting bar or outside on our lovely back porch where you'll be surrounded by our gorgeous zinfandel vines. $30 per person, Complimentary for Black Chicken Society Member (up to 4 people) Groups of 8+, Please Call or Email for information and availability

 

  • The Zinner Sanctum - Explore Our Current Releases Alongside A Few Selected Library Wines in The Privacy of Our Zinner Sanctum. Learn the Intricacies of The Zinfandel Varietal, Investigate Some of Robert Biale Vineyards' Finest Examples and Unparalleled Single Vineyard Creations. $55/Per Person ~ $40/Black Chicken Society Member
 
How To Buy It
Become a member of the Black Chicken society and you’ll be privy to all of the great stuff that is coming from the vineyard. Call the vineyard for details and ask about discounts for members on experiences and tours at the winery. https://shop.biale.com/visit-us/
 
Robert Biale Vineyards
4038 Big Ranch Rd, Napa, CA 94558
Hours: 10AM–3PM
Phone: (707) 257-7555